Following Positive/High Risk Patients and Survivors

According to the National Cancer Institute SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) stat fact sheet on female breast cancer there were an estimated 12.3% of women living with breast cancer in the United States in 2012. 98.6% of breast cancer survivors diagnosed with early stage breast cancer are alive after 5 years or more. As early detection, treatment, and advancement in medicine have gotten better, these percentages have improved significantly. As of 2015, there are more than 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the US.  Advances in screening and early detection also apply to women who have a high risk for developing breast cancer. We now know that roughly 85% of breast cancers occur by chance, and 5-10% are linked to genetic mutations.

Since there are now more breast cancer survivors and more emphasis on identifying people at high risk, you need to be prepared to move past treatment and fear. Be proactive in your life and know that continuous follow up and high risk screening need to be discussed with your healthcare provider. Breast cancer survivors and high risk patients have a higher chance of developing a new cancer in the future, as well as having cancer come back. Therefore, increased screening with frequent clinical breast exams, annual to bi-annual imaging studies (like mammograms and MRIs), and laboratory tests may be recommended on a case by case basis. It is important to be diligent and work with your healthcare provider to determine the best screening plan for you. Some topics of discussion with your healthcare provider should include frequency of visits, which screening tests are needed in your particular situation, and if you or your family members should consider genetic testing, if you haven’t already.


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